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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  September 5, 2014 5:00pm-7:01pm EDT

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>> how did american finances recover after the war? was the resumption of trade duties sufficient to refill the treasury? did we un-default on the loan? >> yeah. the economic problems of the united states were ended by the conclusion of peace. it opened up the international money markets to america. it also persuaded american financiers that there was something worth investing in. you've just seen the capital city trashed and the government fleeing. you don't believe this is this country is something you want to invest in. so the presumption of peace opens up the domestic taps. it also leads to a massive boom in trade. all of that trade that didn't happen from 1812 to 1815, it happens pretty much as soon as the war ends. news of peace in london prompts every merchant in the whole of the a nighted kingdom to load
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ships up with goods that they think will sell in america, and it's a huge armada of trade crosses the atlantic, and business booms against. there's then an economic setback, but essential the united states is able to rebuild its economic activity. so peace is really good for peace it's good for the economy, war is not. a lesson the british had learned many years before. >> yes, have you seen in the called public record -- >> sorry. >> have you seen in the public record office any orders to coburn and ross to burn the public buildings in washington? and the implications being retaliation, question mark.
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>> thank you very much. this is one of the great questions about what happens in washington. were coburn and ross operating under specific orders to do something as specific as burning the white house? certainly there was a sense that after the occupation of what is now toronto and the destruction of the public buildings there, and in other parts on the niagara front where there had been cross-border destruction of public and private buildings by both sides, that the public buildings of the state that started the war were fair game. and nobody in europe would have thought this was in any way surprising. the whole operation was organized by george coburn. he was the only man among those in command who had been long enough to work out the target and how to get there. the chronology is quite clear. the army with ross and alexander cochran arrives in the chesapeake, and the next morning they set off up the paw tuxant and cross towards bladens burg.
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he is responsible for everything that happens. he had no but he didn't have specific orders to do it. his boss, alexander cochran, was very supportive. cochran had lost his elder brother in the revolutionary war and harbored some dislike of americans as a consequence. it was a divisive war. there were many on the british side who were old enough to remember that conflict so the memories of the last war were quite raw for many people. >> you've mentioned the burning of the government buildings, but pamela scott showed me a drawing
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that i had noticed before, but hadn't thought about in this context. a drawing by latrobe in december of 1815 that shows george washington's buildings burned -- ruins of them and a large tavern nearby, near the capital that was also in ruins. ed are one private billing -- is from which a sniper shot general ross's horse, the british didn't burn the building. it was part of a terrace, so they pulled it down. they also destroyed the offices of the national intelligence of any sound general and admiral would like to see the press suppressed. george coburn took all of the
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letter cs out of the box, so they couldn't write -- the they compared him frequently with satan, and not to satan's advantage, so he took a particular delight -- he then decided he hadn't done enough, so they got the press out and burned it as well. remember, in the aftermath of that there was a tremendous storm, and a lot of damage was done as well, so that may have been storm damage. there's certainly for report of the british destroying any other private buildings. >> thank you so much for being here, when as part of coburn's operation and ross's operation, of course there was the squadron under captain gordon, which came -- ascended the potomac
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river, and as they came up, and before they engaged ft. washington, they sailed by mt. vernon. the very symbol of america with george washington, why didn't they just blow up mt. vernon? >> thank you very much, tomorrow evening i'll be speak about that. the reason they didn't is george washington was a liberal hero, as far as british liberals certainly on the left of politics is concerned, george washington was a significant figure in the creation, he taught the british some very important lessons about representation. so they didn't burn the building. they stopped and the band came up and they played washington's march in his honor. so the british were not making war on america. they were making war on the american government. they recognized that half the population were not enthusiastic about this war.
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the federalist response to the war was not particularly engaged. they saw that this was very much a partisan conflict within american, and they very carefully targeted those americans who they believed to be the causes of the war, hence the use of the congressional division list. george washington, he's off-limits, he's part of the history of britain and america. remember, he's an officer in king george's army first, and he is spared, as are almost all private buildings that the british can spare. thank you. one there and one there. >> at what point was part of the british war aims for concluding the conflict to create a native-american territory in the northwest, and what happened for that to go status quo ante? >> the british government's
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position on the peace treaty was not entirely unified. the british minister who was most involved in running the war, the secretary of stays for war, was also responsible for the british colonies. his view was that it would be a good idea if we could build a buffer zone between the united states and north america to reduce the possibility of future conflict. the native-american peoples were seen as an ideal opportunity to do this. his cabinet colleagues disagreed vehemently. they didn't want to spend $10 million a year to improve the border of canada. he was outvoted and the international lawyers started to look at the problems of creating a buv zone which longed to a people who had snow residential qualifications and no identity. at law it would have been almost impossible to create a territory to give to the native-americans.
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there was simply no framework to do this. european legal systems did not recognize the rights of native peeples, which is how you're able to sweep right west across the whole of the continental. there was no legal framework for giving them national identity. it was mooted, and it was used as a way of pushing the americans away from talking about maritime belligerent rights. the british put something up, which they had no intention of trying to execute, because it was incoate. there was no particular form. there was a line somewhere out there in the west, but it was never determined where that line was. it was a great negotiating position, because it made the americans think they had won something. what the british had done is make the americans work about something, which they couldn't care about, and in exchange they got maritime rights off the treaty table. it's a nice way of everybody feeling they had won something,
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but there was no way this could have been set up. we would have to do agreed, washington and london that the native-american peoples were a nation and that they had a national identity rather than being tribal people spread across the countryside in a completely different way. >> there's a william charles cartoon -- or pair of cartoons, one lauding bald more and the other condemning the alexandriaen for provisioning the british fleet. i wonder if you could comment on that. >> william charles, the famous cartoonist, who makes fund of the alexandriaen, he lived and worked in alexandria and was british, but obviously a british republican. his cartoon is very much the republican view of the alexanderians which was very unpleasant, and then used the baltimore cartoon to show a way that the british were beaten. they weren't really beaten.
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they just decided that think didn't want it. if you want to start balance mor baltimore, we can do it. >> and there were 20,000 dug in with a very strong position. how are they going to get into baltimore? the british didn't have another army. if they burned their army up attacking baltimore, they had no more troops yet. >> we're curious about alexandria. >> the picture is quite clear, john bull, who is a mine otear, a truly horrific beast, they had the citizens -- as if your hair would if you saw a real minotaur. of course, they did turn under up and tried to stop the british leaving, but they failed. the british got back after some
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interesting exchanges of fire. so it's an important political cartoon, but you have to read it very much as a partisan cartoon. it's just as the shannon cartoon. it's one side of the argument, but an internal -- this is the republicans pointing the finger at the federalists saying you're not patriotic. one more? >> i'd just like to say the score is now even. this last weekend the city of alexandria challenged the royal navy to three sporting events and the city won all three. [ laughter ] >> i'm very pleased to hear that, of course the score in fridayalities in the war of 1812 was three each, and as the british took all three of their prizes home, and the americans only got one home, i think we get that one on point. thank you very much.
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[ applause ] here are some highlights for this coming weekend. saturday at 6:30 p.m. on the communicators, former fcc commissioners michael kopp and robert mcdowell. with campaign 2014 gearing up, watch the latest debates on c-span. sunday afternoon kay hagen and tom till his, and from the california governors race, jerry brown and republican nominee neel kashkari. mike gonzalez and how he thinks republicans can make gains for the hispanic voight, and sunday at noon on in depth or three-hour conversation and your phone calls with the former chair on of u.s. commission on civil rights, mary francis barry. saturday on reel america, the building of the hoover dam, and sunday night at eight, the anniversary of president ford's pardon of richard nixon. find our schedule at cspan.org
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and let us know what you think about the programser watching. call us, sent us a tweet, or you can e-mail us. join the c-span conversation, like us on facebook, follow us t[ now more from the sim poseual on the british burning of washington, d.c. during the war of 1812. hosted by the white house historical society, the u.s. capitol historical society, and james madison's montpelier. just discussing "a perfect union." it's 35 minutes. for america under fire, mr. madison's war and the burning of washington city. for those of you who may be just joining us, if you have one of these little devices, if you can make sure it's turned off or in
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the silent mode, that would be fantastic. catherine has written and most recently she an oat a timed and edited an important memoir. she's the director of education at the huntington library, art collection and botanical gardens and professor of history at the university of california riverside. today she will discuss the rep queen's identify during the war, this time when dolly madison's events became known as squeezes. i've also heard she may mention the royal snuff in the war of 1812, and i would encourage all of you later on to go take a look at dolly maid i son's
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snuffbox which is over at the decatur house. we just brought that up today, it's on a virile visit to washington, d.c., so go take a look. with that teaser, please join me in welcoming dr. catherine al gore. >> i'm tempted to say forget about my speech, but let's go look at the snuffbox. i'm very happy and honored to be here with such a distinguished set of scholars, and if i may say an even more distinguished audience. thank you to bill and the association, to the u.s. capitol historical society, and of course james madison's montpelier, for asking me and getting me here. thanks to the huntington library for giving me the day off.
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the star-spangled banner, the proliferation of symbol that is emerged from the war of 1812 constitutes a paradox. those as this conference demonstrates, much recent scholarship on the causes, conduct and legacies of the war about the costs and gains of the war, americans undertoo -- international power or territory. it may have precisely accounted for its symbolic booty. the victory that contemporary americans and many later historians claim was a psychological one.
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the war has renewed and rye instated the national feelings and character which will a daily lessening. so pressured both sides may explain the national energy that took into account a fairly minute dade battle and set it to the tune of an old drinking song and made it a national anthem. some of the most potent images to emerge from the war of 1812 are those of dolly madison, faison down the enemy, saving the gilbert tour portrayed. what i'm arguing to you today
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seized upon these images, endowing them with a hef there -- is that they were really a culmination of a process. and the process was dolly's construction of a political identity, and she began when she was the wife of the secretary of state in 1801. she would have no idea, of course, what was happening, but it turns out what she did was precisely right. this is one of the most rich and fruitful inquiries in the last 50 years. but at the risk of oversimplification here are some commonalties to this identity constructing process. it can occur at the individual level, a single person, and at a
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larger collective left, and at sometimes they pray both tame. they dynamics mark the awaring in and the people are becoming at this time aware of selves. you can see a lot of tenants of identity theory at play, so she was offered and accepted probablily unconsciously the roles provided by her culture. those roles were southerner, lady, political hostess, along with the most common roles of wife and mother. dolly added elements from european and royal culture, hour, to create her republican queen, a persona which she deployed to political effect.
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dolly's position as queen dolly resulted in her ascension as the -- and it began quite early. did you defense be enhanced by the outbreak of war. in the historical search for dolly's creation of this republican queen, the sources don't lie in dolly's own words. she does not discuss her work that way in her private correspondence, for evident we must rely on the many descriptions of dolly that were supplied by those who saw her or met her, especially at her famous wednesday night drawing rooms. generally the descriptions of dolly that pepper the learns have been regarded as a form of color commentary. many and women reported back home on what dolly wore, served, how she moved, and how she treated people.swf-
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but we would have to look at these descriptions not just as mere celebrity mentions. the people who regarded dolly so minutely, whether members of the ruling elite or ordinary americans and europeans invested in the republican experiment, what they were looking for in how she looked and how she behaved, they looking for signs and clues. about the madisons themselves, maybe a specific political event and even for the fate of the republic. there's a lot at stake in these descriptions. after the american revolution, at a time of flux and change, with very few real political structures in place, they new americans focused on the persons of their leaders. they transferred it to dolly.
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to them, dolly symbolized the heart of madison administration, but also its true character abstract psychological and emotional messages to large groups of people. some who say that all politics are psychological, it was especially important. it influenced the influence way americans felt about how they were ruled. that was key to survive of the nation. especially from historics has revealed that the early and the political culture was much more dependent on royal forms of rule than we ever previously thought.
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it steam 24th not only had an appear tide for air stock crazy, they claimed the legitimacy and authority -- so the founding men, even as they were putting together a new nation along the line of what they called pure republicanism, that they found they might actually need the trappings of authoritarian air stock crazy in order to command the wide respect and assure the people that the right kind of people were ruling them. this is a tricky balance to achieve. s how much was too much to repurpose the old -- to convey the legitimacy of the national experiment. and perhaps federalists such as washington and john adams would have freely brought back the aristocratic practices. we have evidence of that. a number of americans, the number that would be followers had nothing to do with the old world and kept a sharp eye out
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for, as they would have called it encroaches air stock rae. as it turned out, this air stock rae/republican balance came down on one side of the other in a lot of different ways. one of the ways this tension played out is issues of power often do is on the field of gender. so in the end, the women of the ruling elite were given the task of conveys the aristocratic message to the masses, and ironically because they were considered private, they had a lot more latitude than men did to do that. the genius of this persona that i'm talking about, the republican queen, was that it made a bold declaration on this issue, mixing extremes on both sides for maximum effect. so dolly combined a regal visual persona with a personal that seemed downright democratic, and put it to use at her social events. report after report, mostly
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favorable, described her regal bearing and fantastical costumes as dolly presided over her drawing room. over and over her guests cautioned her demeanor is so far removed from the haught injure generally attended on royals that year fancy can carry the reaccept blanc no further than the headdress. she was a queen. many proclaimed her that, but as the new york congressman said, she was a queen the hearts. james had employed dolly's personifying gifts during the difficult decision to declare war, and how he did this allowed him to hold the war hawks at bay while he weighed options for peace. thus signals to political watchers that though james could not officially embrace the war hawks agenda, he was not discounting it all together.
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this seems to have been no hint of sexual improprieties that associated about dolly and clay, unless one counts the symbol of sharing a snuffbox. so there we go. so both dolly and henry clay shared their addiction to the substance, and the public sharing of her snuffbox with clay was read by all and sundry as a sign of henry clay's favor within the madison administration. like many, thought taking snuff a bad habit, she admitted that in dolly's hands, the snuffbox, quote, seems only a gracious implement within which to charm. political commentator and robin baird smith saw it as a most magical influence in sootheling
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in a manner so cordial and gracious and retail a feeling inimical to the interests of the bestower. dolly had henry clay -- while james decided what to do. dolly's persona was firmly in place in washington city, when the u.s. congress declared war on great bring on june in 1812. shortly after the declaration, the president was in what we call a republican relations nightmare. bur well worked the difficulties of his situation have increased in a great degree. madison's only hope lay in influencing sentiment. that's not a bat those, but
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unfortunately no james madison, the war went badly right from the beginling. her brilliant achievements were not the dramatic stuff the military victories and battles at sea. their execution and effects were subtler. dolly's wartime efforts intensified her pre-war work. she had always used her social circles to bring people together in large gatherings, which allowed them to fulfill their own political goals while fulfilling the madisons' political goal of unity. in the first congressional season after the declaration, dolly began her social campaign early, returning to the capitol after only one week at montpelier, anxious for the fate of the war only.
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throughout the war she game more parties than ever before. she calls them the routine of gality, which i think hints at what it took to produce these brilliant scenes as people call them. as cat said before the war, her drawing rooms became known as squeess, because there were 200 to 300 guests crammed into the oval room, but wartime wednesdays housed up to 500. that first month of the congressional season after the declaration, dolly's butler left her for france, and she told her cousin and james' personal secretary ed quarter coles, i am acting in his department and the city is more than ever crowded with strangers. my head is dizzy. no one was more visible at her parties than queen dolly. though personally she was as partisan as any man in congress, because she was a woman, dolly
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could be seen as political neutral. men of parties had interests dictated by their political needs, but women could be disinterested, simply patriotic for their own sakes. since men were associated with one party or the other, no male, not even the president, could represent the united states 679 because, of course, in theory as a woman, she was above politics, dolly could appear to the american public and european observers, as a larger than life embodiment of disinterested patriotism and nation. during the war of 1812, then, dolly became not just the character mattic figure for james madison, but for america. now her famed abilities to draw people to her had an urgent larger purpose. her mission was to convey to the capitol and to the country that the government was working and
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that the war was being conducted well. she presented a picture of calm optimism and unquestioning support. military troops had begun honoring her by parading past her house when she was the wife of the secretary of state. now they marched by the white house to be reviewed, and she did do sass a general would. she would invite them in and serve them refreshments, quote, giving liberally the best of the house. she made a lot, perhaps too much, of the few military victories that came to the united states' way, and of the men responsible. as i think as dr. lambert set earlier, the biggest surprise of the war was how well the navy performed, and now that we know how little it really got them, it's amazing what dolly made of t as you heard in the naval campaign, american forces captured the british ships, and the officers presented the
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captured ships' colors or the flags to dolly in very public ceremonies. as the president and secretary edward coles arranged the first of these presentations, in a culture where intelligent traveled slowly, such displays are with a welcomed sort of good news dolly was very conscious of this honor paid to her and the country during the presentation of the macedonians colors, sara gayle seton noe noted the flush of pride and patriotism that diffused her face. as alternate dolly's visibility cut both ways her interesting did not go unquestioned. political enemies tried to turn events against her. particularly a federalist dolly defiantly stamping on the colors laid before her.
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6 so he said, an englishman in the city hearing this report basically observed that charlotte, meaning the queen of great britain, would not have done so with the american colors. discussing this incident later in life, dolly denied making such a gesture and indeed the story seems unlikely u such a public display of negativity seems out of character, and also the fact that it was the federalist spreading the story around, the story seems suspicious. according to dolly, when the men had been carrying the flag to her by the corners, commodore stewart let it fall either by extent or design, the motive has been much questioned. according to dolly, it was another leady that said trample on it, and she drew back and said not so, while the lady advanced and put her foot on it.
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while the wars advanced the fears of invasion grew. it did not help matter when those in the capitol began to hear tales of civilian intimidation brought by the commander the naval operations, sir george coburn. dolly's job as the face of the war became even more crucial shy might privately to her cousin edward coles about the atmosphere of fears and alars, but the pop you lu but the pop you llace looked to for reassurance. right before the invasion, he wrote to his wife letitia again saying, i assure you i do not believe there's the smallest cause for alarmt. what was his proof? it was his proof of how the ladies were reacting, led by dolly. i do not perceive the least alarm through the women. they are well aware of their
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safety. so in her role as a stand-in for her husband, dolly madison attracted both positive and negative attention. during the summer of 1813, coburn fed the rumors of invasion by threatening her. while relating to edward the details of the plot wherein british rogues were to land in alexandria under color of darkness and set fire to the white house, dolly confessed, i do not extreme able, but feel affronted the admiral should sent me notice that he would make his bow at my drawing room soon. surely her bravado is a bit of a pose. i panic in washington city abated somewhat when coburn did not attack in the summer of 1813, but the panic returned stronger than ever the next year, and it turns out they were absolutely right to panic form the invasion began in the early
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morning of august 19th, 1814, as a british force landed at ben fick maryland and the main port of the pautuxent river. dolly retained the rhetorical focus as he, quote, sent work that unless he left the house would be burned over her head. he doesn't mention james in this, nor does he include james in the other threat, which is to capture her as a prisoner of war and parade her through the streets. on august 23rd, james left the white house in order to review the troops in the field and the national intelligencer reported the rumor that 5,000 or 6,000 troops have joined the force already in maryland. this really panicked washington, signaling a mass exodus, alone in the white house except for her servants and slaves, dolly was poised to make her name in history.
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now, the story that we know of dolly's most famous day and the subsequent crafting of her historical legacy will be examined tomorrow in this program, but i'm -- i will conclude then just by saying that dolly's ability to achieve historical and popular fame after the war, though, was a direct result of this experiment and identity making that rendered her the queen of washington city long before the first shots were fired in the war of 1812. if at the end of the war most americans understood that the victory was psychological. thank you very much.
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now is my favorite time. we a microphone there, and maybe somebody traveling around form does anyone have questioned? yes, and let's see if we can get you a mike. >> how much of dolly's performance was dictated by her husband's inable to say yes or no. she is this sort of tall, shapely vivacious woman, never forget a name or face he is
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seen, you know, as there's all kinds of famous quotes, and i don't want to load up on james madison with the president here. he is an implicateual. he's a pure selectual. he constructed a lovely theory on which to run a government the i tell you that will become a democracy in about 30 years and will been two fathers, and pretty much their vision will fade away. they endeavored to take this lovely theory and put it into action.
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there's no place for aristocratic or anything like that. no patronage, for instance, which is a mall, mark of courts. you can't really run a government that way. it's dolly and her colleagues that begin to build the first patronage machines, borrowing in royal courts in order to try to make this theory work form so you understand when they're drying how fabulous she, they're describing james in a positive way, by saying look at this guy. there's no way he is going to be the charismatic male figure that we fear in a republic. that was the big fear, that somebody like george washington with his sword, that he was going to take over and become an emperor. napoleon was a charismatic figure, so they're a great contrast, here's quiet james madison in his republican broad
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clath. he's not a threat to anything, whereas dolly, not a thread because she's a woman -- the other thing i want to say about them, and they are two very different people. they are both abhorrent to conflict. they are both striving for his goal of national unity. in everything she does publicly, you can see her enacting his goal. for all that they look so different, they have values in common. sometimes that worked out well for them. it was something profound that she shared. >> i get very frustrated when i hear descriptions of madison that are demeaning to him. i think one of the reasons is
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because the men who said it were jealous of him. the most well-known and admired women, if he was an unattractive, unaassuming and his tummy hurt, how did he win the most popular women of the age. you have come right to it what man in here can say something like that? >> oh, my lord. i do not want to see a show of hands. this is very interesting. you got right to it, which of course is all these terrible descriptions in james, and yes, those people are probably jealous. but why did dolly payne todd, a widow with a son and a bit of money in fact she chooses him so quickly it's a shame.
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and actually we have pretty good evidence but very little and the one thing we sort of have is a letter written on her wedding day which justifies the marriage as being good to her son and she signs the letter to her friend dolly todd. once she's married, she writing dolly madison alas. we don't know what that's about. we do know that they fall if love and become fabulous. the question is why did she choose him. this is where we wish or source -- she might have had very golden memories of her childhood.
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no down enhanced that her father freed about nine slaves, and because of the quaker conscience, and when she's 15, moves the family to philadelphia, which is very cold compared to anything -- he wanted to be in the center of the quaker world so by the time she's 26 terrible things have happened. her fare died probably of depression, all of her brothers, i think all are dead by that point. it was terrible in philadelphia. so i think there's a part of her that looked at this quite likely man and thought i could go back to that place of my childhood, and in fact go back as a higher station. the part i can't believe she is didn't think about is what of
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the idea of returning to a slave-holding state mean to her. if she were a virginia miss, you can't say she didn't think about it, but her parents were quakers. there was a lot of decision about slavery and abolition sort of ahead of its time. her father gave the slaves freedom because of this. that was the reason she ended up in philadelphia. so i don't know if she had qualms about returning to a slave-holding society, or whether she went without a backward glance, but some day somebody will find a trunk of letters and tell me what i need to know. >> jefferson said he was the most brilliant speaker along with pendleton that he had ever heard, so he's not a quiet little man. >> i think we do have to take these many descriptions for what they are, which is pool tick. ralph, this is the biographer of james madison. >> didn't dolly say somewhere
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along there that i'm going to get the great little madison? she's in the capital of the united states at that point, in philadelphia you and congress is there. she has heard of what she called the great little madison. i just have to acknowledges you as also the savior of many of dolly's pace. when he was doing his wonderful biography, he would note where he saw a dolly paper here and there. people keep women's papers differently than men's, so it was wonderful to have. one of the papers that came up only in microfilm. i use the memoir this way, because most of the stuff happens before she's even born. so we kind of think of it as the closest autobiographical voice
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to dolly that we have. yes, so he's definitely famous. yes. sir, you're standing there. good for you. >> and by the mike. >> you are. >> dolly is first lady for eight years during madison's administration. jefferson is a widower in the previous eight years, and james monroe, the next eight years after madison, his wife is somewhat limited in her ability to be in the public eye. so could you talk about how dolly, does her role as first lady expand in either one of those administrations? >> yes. so this is the question about dolly first, i would pity anybody who followed dolly madison. she was an act to follow. sadly for elizabeth cartwright monroe, it was noted by people. louisiana catherine adams, who would go on to follow mrs. monroe said, oh, she's just not dear dolly.
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what mrs. monroe -- once you understand there's this tension between air stock rae and republicanism or democrat sick, you can see the united states wrestling with it. when elizabeth monroe comes with her polish, she tries to set things on ceremony and footing, with not great success. she didn't have that touch where dolly could blend those two absolutely. and i also have to say, and i owe this holly, who will talk tomorrow, she's absolutely right, too much has been made of the fact that thomas jefferson was a widower, and people said that dolly madison served as a stand-in for him. it is true when they were ladies at table, he would ask dolly and sometimes her sisters to comes in, though he had an official hostess, his daughter. by thinks as her waiting in the wings for that invitation from
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the president's mansion obscured the fact what she was really doing during those year. so thomas jefferson feared air stock rae, he cut out any kind of real new year's day and -- he kept new year's and foou fourth of july. that was it. there were no parties where women and all kinds of characters, he called women and courtiers would appear. he had famous dinner parties with men of one party or the other because he was trying to control power. what was happening on f street, in the house of the secretary of state during those eight years, is that dolly is building a little mini empire there. that's the place in washington, i would say if you came to washington on an evening, you would see the white house dark but house on f street was lighted and in color. that's where republicans, ambassadors -- she was building a political salon there. that certainly becomes most
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apparent when jefferson insults the marys so much that diplomacy between great britain and the united states screeched to a halt, but the marys eat at the madisons' house. so it's important to look at thomas jefferson years as not a stand-in first lady but she's building a power base. no wonder when james madison is elected, people of the town say they're very happy to have mrs. madison as presidentess. i think we can have one more question so we can stay on time. does anyone -- yes, sir? >> wasn't it simply the unfortunate circumstance of succeeding thomas jefferson who was certainly more colorful and more authoritative? something like truman succeeding fdr. that people who liked fdr looked at this -- would say to err is truman because he seemed colorless in relation to his predecessor. >> right. so the we is about poor james madison suffering comparison to the tall redheaded thomas
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jefferson. i really actually think -- i'm sure there's always something that -- in this, it could have been anybody i think who would have gotten it. the republican party was suffering the disease of the victors, which is infighting. with thomas jefferson sort of sweeping into town with this new party, the federalists were on their way out. they weren't going to let go without a fight but they were still on the way out. instead of holding together, the wife of mitchell from new york said why do they keep fighting? they're just trying to pull in splinter with him. james madison's greatest enemies were his fellow republicans. so, thank you very much. [ applause ] tonight on "american history tv" in primetime, we'll show you
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more of the speakers from the symposium on the british burning of washington, d.c., and the war of 1812. including kenneth bowling, author of "the creation of washington d.c.: the idea and location of the american capitol." pamela scott, author of "buildings of the district of columbia." william seale talks about his book "the president's house: a history." andrew burstein and nancy isenber fwrks. tonight beginning at 8:00 eastern on c-span3. coverage of the speakers at the symposium on the british burning of washington, d.c., during the war of 1812 continues with alan taylor, author of "the civil war of 1812." it's 55 minutes. >> so i now have the great pleasure of introducing dr. alan taylor. he joins us as the thomas jefferson -- just talking about that gentleman -- thomas
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jefferson chair in american history at the yuuniversity of virginia. this is a new role for dr. taylor. his previous two decades were at the university of california at davis. he is, as probably all of you know, a very distinguished scholar of the war of 1812 and wrote the book "the civil war of 1812" which really looks at that engagement in great detail. but recently, and very exciting for us who live in virginia, he published the national book award and pulitzer prize winning "the internal enemy: slavery in the war in virginia 1782 to 1832." and it really looks at the war of 1812 with such a different lens. alan's groundbreaking work "the scholarship" which highlights this very understudied story of the war of 1812, particularly the runaway slaves who sought their freedom by joining with british forces, it's just something that i think is very intriguing, and alan, we want to
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learn so much more, so please come forward and let's hear about this new story of the war. [ applause ] >> thank you, kat, for that very kind introduction, and i'm grateful to you and to leslie for all your hard work in organizing this, to the white house historical association, and the u.s. capitol historical association. and to james madison's montpelier for bringing all of us together today. i want to introduce some characters who tend to be bit players in the usual story of the war of 1812. and to try to make a case that they were much more than bit players. and i want to begin with one of them, a man named willis. we don't know his last name. because enslaved people were denied in the public record last names in virginia in this period of time.
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he was 14 years old when he first escaped from his master's plantation in virginia. and he escaped from princess ann county which is down in the vicinity of where you would find virginia beach today. it's july of 1807, he was 14 years old, and he stole a boat and he rode out to a british warship. anchored in nearby lynnhaven bay. now, he expected a warm welcome from the british because war then seemed eminent. this was in the immediate wake of the british attack on the american frig gait, the uss chesapeake which came very close to igniting war five years before the war of 1812. initially the british mariners did feed and welcome and clothe willis and four other refugees who also stole boats to get away
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to the british. but a month later, the british captain forcibly sent all of them back to their masters. in a bid to defuse tensions with the americans. but remarkably, instead of dwelling on that betrayal, willis later recalled that he quote, had been to the british once and that they treated him well and he wished his master let him remain, end quote. and in 1814, after war did break out in earnest, willis had much better luck fleeing again to a british warship along with, quote, many other negroes in the neighborhood. end quote. and this time, he remained free. now, willis' persistence demonstrated the persistent allure of the british as potential liberators among the restive slaves of the tidewater region of virginia and maryland.
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for example, in july 1814, in calvert county, maryland, a farmer sought water by visiting a spring. he noted a group of slaves already there. and so the farmer hid behind a tree, and he overheard, quote, the negroes belonging to the said john j. brook assigned to the different british admirals, end quote. two days later, three of those cheering slaves fled to the warships. now the argument i want to make today is that by their enthusiasm for the british as potential liberators, the enslaved people of the chesapeake made it so. flocking to them in unanticipated numbers that would by early 1814 compel a major rethinking of british strategy
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in the chesapeake. at the start of their first chesapeake campaign in 1813, the british officers were under orders to take on no more than a few black men and only men who could be useful as pilots and guides. but a year later in 1814, they would seek and entice hundreds of runaways including women and children, and including willis. so like willis, the other runaways would not take no for an answer. now, professor andrew lambert gave a very nice introduction of the reluctance of the british to engage in these war, and they were slow to wage the war with great vigor because they hoped that it would end pretty quickly in its first year. and so it's only in the second year of the war in 1813 that they send a major expedition
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into chesapeake bay with the purpose of punishing the states of virginia and maryland. from a perception that those two states were the heartland of american resources and also the political home, principally, in virginia, of the governing republican party which the british quite rightly blamed for making this war. so the british purpose in coming into chesapeake bay in 1813 is initially not to free any slaves of any significant numbers. the job is to punish the americans who lived along the shores of the chesapeake. to do so primarily by rating shipping that was vulnerable to this british naval supremacy which was overwhelming in chesapeake bay. and secondarily to raid exposed and vulnerable villages along the major waterways. what the british are very
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reluctant to do is to go into the interior. they were fearful of the very dense forests that surrounded the chesapeake. they feared being ambushed, they feared american riflemen, they didn't know where an attack might be coming from and they didn't know in what numbers and they simply did not know the lay of the land. and that's very inhibiting on the british. and when you read the letters of their captains and their admirals during 1813, they are full of mystery and fear about the interior. just a mile or two beyond where they could make their landings. so they're very skittish and they're not all that effective. so despite the miseries that they do inflict on a fair number of americans during the campaign of 1813, that campaign closes with a sense of frustration by british naval commanders in the chesapeake.
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they have not achieved their principle goal which was to make life so miserable for the people of virginia and maryland that their government would call off their invasion of canada. far from it. the united states is planning yet again to pursue an invasion of canada in 1814, despite the failures of their invasion attempts in 1812, in 1813. now another problem that the british had that had inhibited them from being aggressive in going ashore is that they were fearful that their own men would desert. the royal navy had a major problem which was it was shorthanded. and it shorthanded because the
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royal navy's very large and as andrew lambert pointed out, england, or i should say the british isles, are not particularly large and populous places. and maintaining a global navy was a major challenge. and to do so at an unprecedented scale, the royal navy is larger than it's ever been before in its history in 1813 and 1814. because of their war against napoleon on a global scale. and so the ships that are sent over into the chesapeake are shorthanded. and then they suffer the loss of further seamen. now a few of them are combat deaths, but and a few more of them are deaths from disease, but there's also a significant loss by desertion because sailors decide that wages are higher and alcohol is cheaper in the united states, and the working conditions are a whole
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lot better off in baltimore than they are on the british royal navy warship. now i'm not saying here that most sailors deserted or that most sailors wanted to desert, but any desertion is a problem for these crews that are already shorthanded, and british officers have the perception that their men are prone to desert along the coast of the united states to a much greater degree than they ever would desert anywhere else in the world. so the british, this adds to a certain skittishness when the british do go ashore, because their commanders have the unenviable task of fighting an enemy while also closely guarding their own men. so the chesapeake have a couple of problems that are revealed in
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1813 in their operation. one is they need able-bodied men who will resolutely fight the enemy rather than desert to it. a potential solution lay in the hundreds of runaway slaves who were eager to be on british naval warships. and they were fleeing in stolen boltsand canoes to seek refuge during 1813. unlike the british deserter who anticipated a better life in the republic, the former slave didn't want to go back to the republic. and so they did not desert. indeed as marines, they could be deployed to watch the white sailors and to pursue deserters. admiral coburn sought to replace many of his white marines with recruits. quote, they are stronger men and more trustworthy. for we assure they will not desert, whereas i am sorry so to say we have instances of our
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marines walking over to the enemy. end quote. and promoting slave escapes seemed a perfect turnabout to punish the americans who were so zealous about enticing britains to desert from their duty. and so it is the desertion problem that is one of those things that nudges these naval officers to embrace blacks as essential allies in the chesapeake war. to perform more effectively, the british needed more men. now they have a second problem, they need better knowledge of the landscape. and here, too, the solution to their problem lies with runaway slaves who are pressing themselves on the british in growing numbers during 1813. now, they're under strict orders not to take in a significant number of refugees. these orders were renewed in
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march of 1813 by the british secretary of state for war in the colonies. but despite these orders, black men, women, and children are stealing boats and they are rowing out to these warships and they're essentially calling the bluff of the british naval commanders. and they're forcing those naval officers to make some hard decisions. will they take in these men, women, and children in violation of their orders or send them back to suffer severe punishment by their masters? and naval officers are coming to perceive african-americans as a potential military resource that could be invaluable. and they know that if they start systematically sending these people back to severe punishment, that they will lose that potential resource. also, frankly, they like feeling holier than thou compared to
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americans and they're just sick about americans going on about how liberty loving they are. here's a great opportunity for british naval officers to say who is the world's most sincere and true champions of liberty in the world? the people taking on napoleon bonaparte and his despotism, and suppressing the international slave trade, and willing to emancipate the slaves held by these allegedly freedom-loving republicans of the united states? well, this is just too delicious for british naval officers to resist. and they really don't want to resist and so they have to write to their home government to try to get that home government to shift its policy. in late may, admiral warren reported to the admirals that his warships had received about 70 refugees, quote, to whom it
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was impossible to refuse an asylum, end quote. and in these reports to his superiors, warren is walking a fine line. he's making clear that he's following official policy and doing his best to discourage these runaways but can't really turn them all away. although they're including entire families of women and children, as well as men. by the end of 1813, the best evidence is that at least 600 enslaved people from the chesapeake had escaped to the british. on november 14th, the captain of the royal navy noted their military potential. quote, the slaves continue to come off by every opportunity and i have now upwards of 120 men, women, and children on board and if their assertions be true, there is no doubt but the blacks of have is a and maryland would cheerfully take up arms and join us against the americans, end quote.
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although many masters have come out on the flags of truce to the british warship and had received permission to speak to their former slaves, quote, not a single black would return to his former owner, end quote. january of 1814, the british government comes around and endorses warren's proposal to enlist black troops among the runaways. and, indeed, it also authorizes the naval commanders to take in women and children as well, for it was well understood that the men would not come if they could not also bring women and children with them. implementation of the new policy fell to vice admiral sir alex alexander cochran who supplanted war in command of the north american squadron on april 1st of 1814. and he issued his famous
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proclamation, which is extremely clever in its word. it never uses the word slaves. but instead his address is to, quote, all those who may be disposed to emigrate from the united states with their families." now, it turns out there's only one white family that takes them up on this and that was in georgia at the end of the war and the british were completely flummoxed by this and had to explain to this poor white family that it really wasn't meant for them. but it's also -- in his proclamation, in the typography of this, because he had 1,000 copies of this printed out, the word "free" is put in capital letters compared to everything else around, and it's giving these emigrants, quote, their choice of either entering into his majesty's sea or land forces or being sent as free settlers
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by british possessions to north america or the west indies where they will be met with all due encouragement, end quote. now, i mentioned that cochran had a thousand copies of this printed up. he had his subordinate admiral coburn and his subordinates distribute this when they go on shore raids. they'll nail this up on trees. they're trying to get the word out. incredibly, the americans help in the process, unwittingly, by reprinting the proclamation in their newspapers. now, they do this because they can't wait to denounce it because they just think this is the most horrible thing on earth and it's really an invitation to slave revolt and they want to assure slaves that they're really being lulled away and the british are going to sell them away into slavery in the west indies. so, by anything that appears in the american newspapers, people talk about. that's the culture of the day. and this is world in which black people and white people live right intermixed amongst each other. and so anything that white folk talk about, black folk learn
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about and they interpret it in their own way. so the "national intelligencer" doesn't mean to be promoting slave escapes but it unwittingly does so. and the orders now are different. so cochran instructs coburn, quote, let the landings you make be more for the protection of the desertion of the black population than with a view to any other advantage. the great point to be obtained is the cordial support of the black population, with them properly armed and backed with 20,000 british troops, mr. madison will be hurled from his throne. so this is now job one. this isn't some by-product. this is what you've got to do first and foremost because it is the essential means to the end.
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the defeat of the madison administration. now, these are the types of boats that the british used in the shore raids. this is a drawing done by one of the subordinate admirals who was active in the chesapeake operation, sir malcolm. the actual drawing was done along the coast -- along the shores of louisiana later in the war, but it's the same type of coastal craft used in the chesapeake. now, the british establish a refugee camp on tangier island and tangier island is regarded as ideal because it is sufficiently removed from the shores of virginia, the mainland shores of virginia. it's pretty secure from attack. but it's close enough and it's right in the center of the black population of virginia, which is in the tidewater, both on the eastern shore and to the west on the western shore.
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and coburn's words, the island was, quote, surrounded by the districts from which the negroes always come, end quote. this is a modern artist's attempt to imagine the drilling of colonial marines. colonial marines was the special unit formed for american blacks, former slaves, to augment british forces in the chesapeake. we have no images from that time of colonial marines so it requires an artist informed by knowing what the uniforms of regular marines looked like and knowing something about the structures that would be built in virginia at that time. so this is showing the refugee camp at tangier island and it is showing the drilling by a white officer, who is a man gesturing with his hand, of three new
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recruits of the colonial marines. the -- initially, admiral coburn has a pretty low expectation of these troops. and the colonial marines is a unit that resembles on a much smaller scale the union color regiments of the civil war in that the officers are white men, but the enlisted men and the ncos are african-americans. and they are being attracted into the service because they're not being compelled to do it, and indeed, as far as we can tell, most of the runaways, including most of the men, don't choose to be colonial marines. some of them end up in the royal navy as sailors. others work more informally as guides. many women worked as laundresses and nurses. some of them are serving as paid servants for british officers and others go to work for the
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naval dockyard in bermuda. so there's a whole range of roles, and it is a subset of the men who are serving in the colonial marines, and they are not compelled to do this, though there is a great deal of persuasion applied to encourage them to serve. and they are attracted by the fact they will be paid, they will receive decent clothing for the first time in their lives. they will receive a daily meat ration for the first time in their lives. they will receive a daily alcohol ration for the first time in their lives. they will receive some respect and they will have the opportunity to plunder and in some cases kill their former masters. now, possessing racial prejudice, because these british and naval officers, again, they're growing into this role. don't get the idea that these are william lloyd garrison from the decks of these naval warships. you know, they've got other priorities.
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so they're not natural-born abolitionists but they are working up a real good hatred for the united states as this conflict goes along, and they're trying to think, how can we really stick it to them? it occurs to them, by liberating their slaves and using them against them. that's what's going on here. and coburn thought, well, it's useful because it draws these people away from their masters. it weakens the economy. he's not so sure that these young men are going to be effective fighters. he said, quote, blackie here yabtabouts is not very active, end quote. that's what he says in 1814 as the drilling has started. a month later, however, coburn changed his mind upon noticing how well the new recruits responded to their training on tangier. he reported they were, quote, getting on astonishingly and are
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really fine fellows. they deduced me to alter the bad opinion i had of the whole of their race and i now believe these who we are training will -- in attacking their old masters. end quote. and with glee he noted that this is the news of the colonial marines was alarming the local masters. quote, they expect blackie will have no mercy on them and they know that he understands bush fighting and the locality of the woods as well as themselves and can perhaps play hide-and-seek in them even better, end quote. and during may and june, he starts to employ the colonial marines as part of the rating forces and they are systematically targeting militia batteries, particularly along the eastern shore and along the northern neck of virginia and in the valley of southern maryland.
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and they perform very admirably and win the universal praise of british naval officers. i'll just quote one of them and, again, it's coburn but you could multiply these quotes. quote, how uncommonly and unexpectedly well the blacks have behaved in the several engagements and though one of them was shot and died instantly in the front of the others, it did not daunt or check the others in the least but on the contrary animated them to seek revenge." now, on the one hand, by recruiting blacks in significant numbers, the british are able to escalate their shore raids. they are able to go deeper inland than they ever could in 1813. they also need to do so because the british cannot sustain their crews without food drawn from
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the shores of the chesapeake. and there are more and more people on these warships and on tangier island as they are welcoming more refugees. in the first year of this operation when they were reluctant to take on the refugees, 600 had come to them. i believe that 2,800 went during 1814 which shows the payoff of the british now welcoming them and aggressively going out and seeking them. but now they have to feed them on top of their own crews. and so that means they have to accelerate and escalate their rating into the interior to get food, to get livestock, in particular, but to get hams, to get chickens. they're seeking out food, and they are going to the places where their colonial marines know best, their former neighborhoods. and that's an opportunity, then,
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for some revenge and it's also, more importantly, an opportunity to get out relatives who have been left behind. so everybody's purposes are being served by these raids, the purposes of these runaways who have become colonial marines and the purposes of the british who want to punish the americans and need to get food for their own crews and this expanding refugee population. they benefit from the nocturnal knowledge of enslaved peoples who have had to become intimate experts in the landscape. because they have had to know how to navigate it at night and dodge slave patrols in order for them to meet their friends, to meet their wives, to meet their children because black families have been split up in this period of time and tend to live on different farms and plantations. so the black community is maintained by nocturnal travel. they are the experts in this landscape. they know it better than their masters who allegedly own it.
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and it is that knowledge that passes to the british. and we can find both in british sources very eloquent statements about how better informed and more secure they are now that they have blacks as their guides and as their light infantry in the form of these colonial marines, but we also find it from american officers. one of them, brigadier general john p. hungerford of virginia said, quote, our negroes are flocking to the enemy from all quarters which they convert into troops, vindictive. with the most minute knowledge and repatience. with the most minute knowledge of every bypass. they leave us as spies upon our post and return upon us as guides and soldiers in incendiaries. it was by the aid of these guides that ambushes were formed everywhere in the woods. from this cause, alone, the enemy have a great advantage over us in a country where the
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passes and byways, through our innumerable necks and swamps are so little known to but very few of our officers and men in through which the enemy can penetrate and be conducted with so much ease by these refugee blacks, end quote. and this is the same modern artist's imagination of the colonial marines engaged in one of these raids at benedict maryland, and it shows them destroying some kegs of alcohol in the foreground. in the middle ground, you see a british naval officer directing a black family to safety and freedom in british boats that are just out of the scene here and in the distant background you see an american sailing ship being burned. so the whole range of activities that colonial marines would have been involved with, or i should say several of their activities are combined in this one imagined reconstruction of their activities.
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now, the point i want to make is that this raiding would not have been as effective without the colonial marines that transforms british operations. here is a map done and i am grateful to ralph for sharing this with me. this shows the variety of targets the british had in 1813, the first year. and you'll see that it's fairly randomly scattered along the bay, east and west, north and south, by the maritime targets are the principle targets, and that's indicated by these symbols for sailing ships. now, if we go to 1814, we'll see the very different nature of british attacks. many more shore raids, and they're concentrated particularly along the northern neck of virginia, and southern maryland, either along the
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shores of potomac on the maryland side but especially along the patuxent river. the british are targeting them for a reason. one is, there are a lot of black people there who are eager to get out and help the british. these are also the pathways, or i should say, the waterways that lead to washington, d.c. and to burn has been planning from the very start of the war, he's been looking for the opportunity to get to washington. he did not have that opportunity in 1813. now he has it in 1814. what he must first do is soften up and eliminate militia resistance along one of these two corridors. the virginians are much more republican than the marylanders of southern maryland and they fight a lot harder, so coburn decides that the resistance is eliminated much more quickly and earlier because most of the people living in southern maryland don't really want to be part of this war at all.
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and they certainly don't want to deal with superior british forces that are now well-guided by the local experts in the landscape. and it is because of this that the british are able to land without any opposition at benedict in mid-august of 1814 and they are able to advance to the upper reaches of the river and to approach the very outskirts of washington, d.c., again, without any opposition because that opposition has already been eliminated by the raids of the summer. and they were able to brush aside militia resistance which it belatedly appears at bladensburg and push into washington, d.c., where they famously burn the public buildings. here is a very famous image of that. and you will notice, there's not a single black face represented in this, which is all too common among representations of battles
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of the war of 1812. they are presented as lily white affairs in almost all cases. the colonial marines were very much present in the occupation of washington, d.c., and in the burning of the white house and the capitol. now, so my argument today has been that the colonial marines and black refugees in general transform the british operation in the chesapeake and make it far more effective and destructive to the americans than had been their operation in 1813 when they did not have the same level of support and assistance from black americans. now, this is an image that is produced. let me get this magic arrow out of the way which is not part of the original image.
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you may recognize this structure. it's the u.s. capitol building. this was produced in 1817 by a critic of american slavery, an american critic of american slavery named jesse torrey and jesse torrey wants you to think about the destruction of the capitol building and wants you to draw certain conclusions from it and those conclusions that he wants you to reach are indicated by the other figures he's put in this particular engraving. you can see down here in this right foreground, a group of enslaved african-americans, a slave coffle. washington, d.c., was a major center for the interstate slave trade of the united states which is accelerating in this very period of time. and, indeed, although i certainly find it impressive that 3,400 african-americans will escape to freedom during
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the war of 1812 from the chesapeake, it is probably that something on the order of 60,000 enslaved chesapeake slaves were moved deeper south into the harsher slavery of the deep south during the same period of time. and jesse torrey is commenting on that. we have a slave trader who is there with a group of enslaved people, men, women and children. and then just so you will further get the message, we have a couple other anearall figures floating in the sky. two lady liberties who are -- so when you put together the three components of this, the message is that the u.s. capitol burned for the sins of the united states in sustaining slavery in the land devoted to freedom.
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now, the last thing i want to show you is the only photograph that we know of of one of the runaways from the war of 1812. this is gabriel hall. he came from calvert county, maryland. he was born probably in 1801. he was 13 years old when he escaped, so about the same age that willis had been. and this is a photograph taken much later in life, in 1891, when he was 90 years old. and he was a prospering farmer in nova scotia, which is where approximately 2,800 of the refugees from the war of 1812 end up after the war as free people. so i wish there were more images that survived. maybe those additional images will pop up. right now, this is our only chance to look at the face of someone who from the african-american community experienced the events that i've
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discussed today. thank you very much. [ applause ] so i'm happy to take any questions you may have. yes, please? [ inaudible question ] >> yes. [ inaudible ] >> okay. so i'll repeat the question. where do the british take the refugees at the end of the war? during the war, they are being taken to tangier island, they're being taken to bermuda which is a major british naval base and is the central headquarters for the operation on the chesapeake. other main british naval base in north america is at halifax, nova scotia. so probably about 1,200 during the war years are moved on to nova scotia and then another
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1,600 are moved on to nova scotia from bermuda or from the sea islands of georgia where the british also operated at the very end of the war. so we're getting about 2,800 who go to nova scotia. we've got another approximately 360 who go to new brunswick, another of the maritime provinces. and probably about 1,000, including most of the colonial marines who go to the west indian island of trinidad. and in trinidad they have their most successful experience. and they manage to maintain distinct communities in a distinct identity. professor allgor talked about identity formation in her very nice presentation. this particular community in trinidad has maintained its cohesion, and they call themselves to this day the
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merikans to distinguish themselves from the many other peoples of color in trinidad. so they dropped the "a." they turned the "c" into a "k." second "a" into an "i." they're the merikans, and a fair number of them have subsequently become immigrants either in england or in the united states. but they still are very proud about being merikans. yes? >> [ inaudible ] the british was integrated. so why didn't the royal navy apply the lessons in louisiana that it arguably should have learned in the chesapeake? >> well, the british do. so the british forces in the chesapeake include two regiments of -- from the west indies. the black west indian regiments. so the british are really in the forefront of deploying people of
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color in their military. they do so in india and they also do so in the west indies. so 2/3 were actually black people when the war of 1812 begins. the united states is extremely reluctant to employ even free blacks in its military. it does so in the navy and the privateers, so free black americans make a major contribution to the u.s. war effort in the navy and the privateers but are not allowed in the u.s. army until the very end of the war when policy suddenly changes because the united states is basically on the ropes militarily and is desperate for men. the only place where a significant number of black men are employed in the united states army is at new orleans by andrew jackson. there are two battalions of free blacks were employed and
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probably another battalion of enslaved people who are promised their freedom by andrew jackson. this employment outraged the local whites of louisiana. so andrew jackson is going out on a limb and he's a slaveholder himself in tennessee but this shows you how desperate he was for men to fend off this british attack which included back soldiers. unfortunate, or fortunate, whatever side you want to put, unfortunate or fortunate on in this war, jackson wins big-time and then he reneges on his promise to the black soldiers. he promised freedom to slaves who fought on his side, then he tells them, sorry, you're not going to be freed, because i really don't have that power. yes? >> thank you for a superb presentation. >> thank you. >> clifford from warrenton, virginia. i question the effectiveness of a 1,000 broadside circulation to
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a population that cannot read by reality, the effectiveness of their inability to read. and i also question the notion that white virginians, marylanders, would discuss the circulation of this broadside to their enslaved people. can you address that? >> yes, i can. they are two very good questions. one is, there is much greater literacy among the slaves in this period of time than i think we've recognized. this is probably the peak period for literacy among enslaved people. a couple of reasons. one is, it's not illegal yet to teach slaves to read and write in virginia. that will become illegal in 1832. in the wake of nat turner's revolt. until then, there's an actual fair amount of teaching slaves to read and write, particularly artisans and house slaves. the other thing is, this is also a period in which the vast
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majority of enslaved people in chesapeake have become christians and they're usually methodist or baptist, and their class leaders or their preachers would like many of them to be able to read the bible. so there's much more literacy than we have bargained on and you don't need everybody to directly read it. the way literacy works in this culture, if there's one person in a group of 50 who can read, he can read it to everybody else. the other thing is that people in america are lousy at keeping secrets. they are the world's worst people at keeping secrets and this comes back to bite them all time in the war of 1812. you get officers in the front line writing letters about how terrible their troops are and they're not prepared and they're sick and they get published in the newspapers of that time. and people talk about stuff. they can't stop themselves from talking.
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so we live in a society now where we've been conditioned for the last three generations to try to keep secrets militarily and our government has become better and better at trying to keep these secrets. so it can be hard for us to understand this time where people were just blabbing away about everything. and we get this notion that black people and white people live in separate worlds. at that time, they didn't. and you'll get these virginians who will frankly say we have an internal enemy and they are waiting on our tables, they are working in the fields next to us and they are hanging on everything we say and anything we say is being reported to the enemy. >> thank you very much. >> you're welcome. thank you for the questions. yes, ralph? >> why didn't the british [ inaudible ] why didn't that keep going? >> okay. well, this goes to the points that andrew makes.
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the british don't want to be in this war. you know, sometimes these naval officers work up these real good fantasies about how great it would be to break up the united states and really stick it to the americans. but that's never the official policy of their government at home. their policy at home is, let's get out of this war as soon as we can so they want to inflict pain on the united states but not with a goal really at the official government level of breaking up the united states, but of just getting them to give in and make a peace treaty as quickly as possible. so if we compare -- you know, at the peak, the colonial marines is a unit in the chesapeake of 360 men. you're not going to topple slavery with 360 men. in the union force that would end up toppling slavery had 360,000 black troops. it's a whole other scale of things.
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and that's because the union's goal was not to try to negotiate a solution. it was to crush the south. and they realized the only way that they could crush the confederacy was to enlist thousands of african-americans to help them do it. and the british never get to that point because the war goals are so much more limited for the british and at the end of the day, what do the british want? they want the united states to go back to being its number one trading partner in the world. they want to be able to resume business and that's not going to be so good if you've totally destroyed the slave system in the united states. so the goal of the policy is to inflict pain on the united states, get them to give in and then go back to a more peaceful and trading relationship that is profitable to british manufacturers again. yes? >> i'm doing research on the slaves get on board the potomac squadron that came up the potomac river after the burn in washington. and the ship logs -- the british ship logs -- show that they
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picked up slaves on several occasions and even trained some of the slaves on board the decks in small arms in preparation for fighting the americans. and i've looked at the depositions that you've looked at so well described in your book. in these same depositions by the landowners that are filed after the war and give these wonderful stories about how the slaves got to the british, they seem to be -- you can tell the landowners or the neighbors are making a big point on whether or not they went on their own accord or were forcibly taken. so i would like for you to speak about that. >> yeah. so slave masters don't like to see these escapes as a referendum on their conduct as masters because they like to believe that they've actually treated their enslaved people, in their view, well.
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and so they preferred to believe that the british have come in and forced people away or -- but sometimes you find out what this force means, and it means they come in and they've told the slaves that they'll have a better life if they'll go away with them. and from the perspective of masters in the chesapeake, these are just lies. that they're not going to have a better life with the british. so the overwhelming majority of people in virginia and maryland do not believe that the british are at all sincere in what they're doing and that these slaves are going to end up ruining the day they ran away from their masters. now, there's abundant evidence that this is not true. and there are a handful of slaves who do choose to go back to their masters at the end of the war. you can number them on the fingers of a hand. whereas you've got over 3,000 that prefer to stay with the
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british. and it's also untrue, it's a canard that just lives on and that the british sold at least some of them into renewed slavery during war of 1812, and there is zero evidence that this happened. yes? peter. >> does a slave revolt have any effect on the military operations of the americans? >> yes, very much so. particularly on the ability to muster militia. so the united states has a major manpower problem of its own, which is it doesn't have enough men to invade canada properly. and they're sending almost all of their regular troops to invade canada which leaves the defense of the coast overwhelmingly to state militias who are not trained and equipped or motivated for this job in any prolonged way, but they're out
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there month after month obliged to serve in harsh conditions with inadequate equipment and food and a lot of them are being pulled in from the piedmont to the tidewater and they don't like it, and one of the things that they keep coming up with why they shouldn't have to go down to norfolk and die of malaria, which is the number one killer of american troops in the chesapeake is malaria at norfolk which is a graveyard for these militiamen. the reason they come up with is, the slaves are probably going to rise up and revolt if the militias pulled out of piedmont and sent to the coast. now, the irony is, by all measures of violence, such as arson, poisoning, murdering of masters, even running away in the piedmont, goes way down during the war. because there are so many militiamen marching back and
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forth on these roads that actually the slaveholders in the piedmont are in more secure control than they were in peacetime. the reverse is true in tidewater where enslaved people can see the british warships, they can hear the british warships because coburn very thoughtfully has his band playing as they go up and down. coburn liked to call attention to himself. he also liked to call attention because he knew that if -- that enslaved people would come the night after they heard this warship loudly moving up and down let's say the rappahannock. >> were the slaves who escaped house servants and artisans or were they -- which is what i would expect. >> there's a broad occupational range that slaves have in the chesapeake, and every occupation they have including field hand is very well represented.
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what i did find was that the number who were artisans or house slaves, they are disproportionately represented among the runaways. what that means is, i am not saying they were a majority. because a majority are probably field hands as was a majority of the enslaved population. but the proportion of those who run away who are artisans and house slaves is larger than the proportion of the enslaved population. and we find the same pattern in the civil war. that the people who are -- who feel most aggrieved by slavery are those who have a little more education, a little higher skill, and are much clearer that their ambitions are being stifled. and the british are presenting an opportunity for freedom, what freedom means to a lot of former slaves is the opportunity to finally get the worth of their
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skill and to be able to hold their families together. and this is appealing across the board but the people who kind of work up the courage to make the attempt are disproportionately artisans and this shocks the hell out of their shockers masters thinking these are the people we've been best to and and should be most loyal to us and they're not. we get the same kind of rhetoric come out of slaveholders in the civil war when they are shocked their own house slaves would betray them. okay. thank you very much. [ applause ] here are some highlights for this coming weekend. saturday at 6:30 p.m. on "the
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communicators" former fcc commissioners michael cobbs. watch the latest debates on c-span. sunday at noon, debates between incumbent democratic senator kay hagan and republican opponent tom tillis and from the california governor's race, democratic incumbent jerry brown and republican nominee neil cashcari. saturday on book tv's "afterwards" mike gonzalez and how he thinks republicans can make gains for the hispanic vote. and your phone calls with the former chair of the u.s. commission on civil rights mary frankrerks s berry. the building of the hoover dam. sunday night at 8:00, anniversary of gerald ford's pardon of richard nixon. find or television schedule on c-span.org. let us know what you think. call us at 202-626-3400. send us a tweet tt #c-123.
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like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. our coverage of the white house historical association >> this is a little more than an hour. >> with that, let me introduce, with great pleasure, dr. john stagg. he's a professor of history and an editor of james madison papers, where he has edited, so far, 20 of these critical volumes of madison's personal correspondence. and we'd like another 20 if you think you can fit that in, john, in the next few years. because of the work of john and his team, we have a much more complete understanding of the
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work of madison and his life. today, he is going to ill lumine for us the intricacies of madison's life and his reflections about the war. so please join me now in welcoming our colleague and our mentor, dr. john stagg. [ applause ] >> thank you, kat, for those words of welcome. i would like to add my thanks to those of our previous speakers, to the organizers of the conference today.
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as the bicentennial of the war approached i found myself wondering what is the federal government and washington going to do about the bicentennial war of 1812. it was entirely predictable that the state of maryland would be there. and, as i say, i'm grateful to
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the conference organizers for that. let me start with some very general remarks about the nature of james madison's historical reputation. for the first half of the 20th century, i think, madison's standing was not high. the main reason for that was the war of 1812, which i don't think i need to belabor here at the moment. one of the most frustrating and unpopular wars ever waged by the united states. but there was also the impression that madison was really just a pale clone of in other words, about the time of world war i, historians didn't have a clear sense of madison as a distinctive personality. there's also another factor, that was that madison, at a certain point in his life, contributed not insignificantly to theories of nullification that drove the nation towards civil war in 1861. remember the virginia and kentucky resolutions of 1798. that was held against madison by national historians a long time ago. so if you looked at these
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rankings of prisons, you'd find that madison was always in the bottom half. admittedly, he wasn't right down there, but he was not thought of very highly. well, some strange things happened since then. madison's reputation among the presidents has been rising. if you look at current presidential rankings, you'll see now that madison is ahead of 44 presidents to date. madison is now in the top 20. he's not way down there like he was before. recently, i saw a poll that said madison was number six. now, i'm not quite sure how to
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explain this. i'm just going to ask you to take my word for it at the moment. in fact, such a poll does exist. i say this without self reference or flattery. i think it does something to the appearance of modern founding father's editions in the second half of the 19th century. we now have a much clearer idea than previous generations of what madison contributed and how he might be compared to his contemporaries. on that process, i think madison has generally come to fair pretty well. he's emerged as an extensive figure. it might also owe something to the phenomenon sometimes referred to as founding sheik.
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madison has generally had his figure burnished. i might tend to suspected that as we become more satisfied since the 1960s; there was more competitions in places at the bottom rankings. [ laughter ] >> i've had the effect of pushing up the standing of presidents from a very distinct past. however, it does remain a problem with the war of 1812. even in the era of the bicentennial, americans are confused about this war. they're confused why it occurred. the campaign to this war was by no means clear that the united states was a victim. the best, many historians say, the nation managed unmuddled.
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so i think it's something of a paradox. the historical reputation of the present rising, in the war of 1812, has not. someone said more about that paradox. if you take almost any book on the war of 1812, and there are a great many books on the war of 1812 from the past two centuries of the event, it's easy to pull out half a dozen factors or problems which contribute to its unsatisfactory progress and rather ambiguous outcomes. some historians relate this directly to madison. they say it's his fault. others can describe it as a
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problem which madison, as president, had to contend with, but he didn't do a very good job of overcoming. so what can we say about madison himself? my serious charge is that he did not want this war. and how that's any of the other factors that determine the government of the war. c5n war was it? was it madisons or was it the war hawks? most historians favor the war hawks.
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the critical developments that face the final path on the way to the war occurred between march and july of 1811. in march of 1811, madison learned of the war and lapsed into his final bout of insanity. it was assumed they might then modify the fractions. now, ma day soften read these reportings. and he sensed there was a chance for american relations. and to take advantage of that possibility, he brought into his cabinet james monroe. there were a number of reasons he did this. but one reason was that monroe had previously served as the
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american minister in london and had formed some personal relations with some british politicians who were expected to become british ministers. now,this was a window of opportunity. the region never changed. and, for that reason, british policy towards the united states remained unchanged.

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